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Thursday, May 12, 2011

A Memphis School Awaits A Presidential Visit

Darrien Little, left, and Kenneth Roberson stand outside Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tenn. The teens are two of several Booker T. Washington seniors who worked on a video project as part of President Barack Obama's Race to the Top Commencement Challenge to win a presidential visit. (AP)

Darrien Little, left, and Kenneth Roberson stand outside Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tenn. The teens are two of several Booker T. Washington seniors who worked on a video project as part of President Barack Obama's Race to the Top Commencement Challenge to win a presidential visit. (AP)

Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tenn. is preparing for a visit from the president. The school beat out 450 other schools to have President Obama deliver the commencement address at graduation on Monday.

In the past two years, the school’s graduation rate has jumped from 60 to 80 percent and the number of students going onto college has skyrocketed from four to 70 percent over the past five years.

The students produced a stirring video, watch below,  for the contest highlighting the stark differences between the challenges they face in the poor, inner city community with the successes of the school. But how did the school accomplish so much in so little time?

We speak to Chris Dean, a graduating senior at Booker T. Washington High School, who was featured in the video. We also speak to Jane Roberts, education reporter for the Commercial Appeal newspaper in Memphis, who has been following the school’s turnaround.


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